I don’t see the events, conference, or trade show industries being the same for a very long time. As a consistent attendee and participant at lots of events, for many years, and as someone who has produced large and small public and private events from as few as four people to as many as 17,000 throughout my career, the idea of people rushing back into close quarters like before, absent a cure for COVID-19 is just not working for me.
Let’s take event and conference seating and the suggested 6-foot rule. The spacing is not just in front of you. It’s to the back, the sides, and on the diagonal. If every seat is 16 inches in width and two inches to the side of armrest space, that’s 18” per seat of personal space (one armrest per seat). That means it’s every fifth seat for the next person to be seated. On a row with 24 seats, that means only four people can be seated per row to allow for six feet of “social distancing” on each row.
Now let’s look at the needed space in front and back of each person.
If each row from the front of the chair to the back of the seat is separated by a distance of one foot, you’ll need six rows in each direction to provide proper spacing. The same thing would apply to seats on the diagonal. In essence, about 18 seats, in circumference, will need to be allocated per person.
Put that into arena or stadium terms, and you’re looking at 1000 fans in an arena that holds 18,000 people. In a movie theatre that holds 180 people, you’re talking about ten people watching a film, and at a conference where the auditorium holds 360, only 20 people can be safely seated. And that’s if the six-foot rule is accurate to restrict the spread of the virus, something some researchers are not even sure is correct.
For sporting events, restrooms are not equipped to handle lines. Let’s face it, there weren’t enough toilets at present for large crowds, and to take some of them out of service to allow for social distancing will only make event attendance more challenging. The lines at merchandise and concession stands would need to be socially distanced too. So when you think about it, the concourses at stadiums and arenas are not designed for the six foot rule either. Large public events, without a Covid-19 vaccine simply doesn’t work.